Ease your marketing headaches

Steve LeSueur

How hard is it to identify and then articulate what sets your company apart from its competitors?

"It should make your head hurt," Michael Fox said.

As director of sales and marketing for SRA International Inc., it's Fox's job to show government customers that SRA can provide services and solutions that no one else can. But he also knows everyone is making similar claims of uniqueness.

"When somebody comes to me and says we are going to win this job because we have worked 10 years with the customer, I say, 'Tell me something about us that you can't say about someone else,' " Fox said.

Staff Writer Gail Repsher Emery talked to Fox and other marketing experts to find out how they go about selling IT services in the government market. Acquisition streamlining and other reforms have made it easier for federal agencies to buy what they need, but in some respects, these reforms have made the contractor's job harder.

More than ever, executives must scour documents, haunt conferences and spend hours schmoozing with customers and industry partners, so they can respond quickly to task orders and other procurements. And they must perform well at oral presentations, where customers are looking not just for the right answers, but also for the right chemistry. It's a lot of work.

Gail's front-page story tells how the experts get it done.

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